Monday, 31 October 2016

No Truth, No Justice, Who Cares?

No truth or justice for Orgreave. Miners were beaten with truncheons, excessively and on camera, policemen admit falsifying reports, under orders so to do, but no truth or justice for Orgreave. Innocent men were held and tried, but because they weren't convicted, no truth or justice for Orgreave. So says Amber Rudd, Mrs May's Brexit promoting henchwoman. Well, it helped her career so why do what's right, when as with most politicians you can do what is expedient. Another political disgrace.

At least Christmas is coming!

Friday, 28 October 2016

Nissan And The Noddlers

Two bits of news to celebrate and I would actually prefer to celebrate than be down about things. One, our GDP, that's the gross domestic product of the UK is up, a tiny amount but it's up, especially in relation to post referendum forecasts. The second bit of really good news is that Nissan has announced its intention to build two new models at Sunderland, thus securing the jobs of thousands of workers for some years, both their own workers and others in the supply chain and local economy, so that's great.

Now the caveats. GDP is up because services grew more than expected, unfortunately manufacturing, agriculture and construction are all down, which is serious, especially if you work in one of those sectors rather than banking for example. Another caveat is that the figures are more or less backward looking, that makes them real, but not necessarily a reliable indicator. People are still spending, which you would ordinarily say is a good thing, but the caveat is that personal loans and credit card debt are growing at the fastest rate for thirty years. That's a fragile bubble and nothing to do with a so called metropolitan elite.

Debt's all well and good if you can afford the repayments and are happy to live in the red, personally I think you'd be off your noddle to want to love like that, also it's not so good if your job in manufacturing, agriculture or construction disappears. It's also a problem if historically low interest rates don't last and inflation returns. When I was paying a mortgage, those interest rates briefly peaked at around 17%, 15% lasted quite a while. Add the difference on to your current mortgage and gauge the risk you might be running in an uncertain future.

Even though interest rates are at an historic low, we still see television advertisements for loans at over one thousand percent, which is immoral, dangerous, profiteering from desperation and, much as I don't like to see government dictating prices to businesses, really should be legislated out of existence.

Final caveat on the good news about Nissan is that one has to wonder what Mrs May has promised Nissan, the boss of which company was recently in Downing Street for a private tête-à-tête with her secretiveness herself. Can whatever was promised be delivered if negotiations don't go as one country wants but as twenty seven countries want? Government needs to be even handed and to be seen to be even handed, political meddling always leads to disaster, be it relationships with doctors, education or business. Therefore what Nissan gets, others should get, watch carefully.

I see that the pound has not shot up to previous levels, or even at all, on the back of all this good news, maybe I'm not the only one thinking there's a bigger picture here. For all that well done Nissan.

My gifts for car enthusiasts if you're still spending or looking to Christmas.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Go On Shake Things Up A Bit Richmond

Zac Goldsmith, he of the silver spoon who couldn't connect with Londoners in general has stood down as MP for Richmond prompting a by election where he will stand again as an independent. The Tories won't put anyone up against him to split the vote and let the Liberals in. Labour will run, despite the opposition of some of their own members and MPs; they cannot win Richmond, but might well help rich boy grim get back in.

Goldsmith stood down over the Heathrow expansion decision, a controversy which will run and run. Richmond was heavily in favour of Remain in the recent referendum, Goldsmith was a 'leaver'. The situation is very interesting. The Tory majority at the general election was massive, but look how well the Liberals did in Cameron's former constituency. Maybe a miracle will happen. Dear Richmonders, if you want change and if you believe in Europe then please vote Liberal.

Even Liam Fox is in a bit of a panic after Wallonia blocked Canada's trade deal with the EU. What chance is there of us getting a good deal?

Britain's government is in crisis, but the UN is serving the wider world no better.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Wonder Woman

UN staff, womens' groups, and many others are offended that the United Nations is using a fictional character who is overtly sexy as a female ambassador for the organisation. They're right it's a huge error of judgement AND the UN should have more important matters on its mind because there are far greater issues which need addressing!

Fifteen Minute May

Mrs May can be as clear as she likes about what she wants, doesn't mean she'll get it, it's about the other twenty seven now. If she's right that the others want Britain to play a full part until we leave, why does she think they only gave her fifteen minutes to speak over coffee?

Malcolm Snook - Author and Blogger

If like me you believe the United nations is failing the world, sign the petition.

Lie Down Boris, Lie Down

I have been reminded that liar in chief Boris said he'd lay down in front of the bulldozers if the airport expansion decision is not the one he wants. We can but hope!

Aviation enthusiasts might like this!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Finally I've Taken Action Myself.

I have repeatedly blogged about the failures of the United Nations and so finally I have made the effort to change things by calling on the UK Government to resign from the UN Security Council and to campaign for a new, post cold war UN constitution which has some chance of bringing about a United Nations that works.

Please view and read my petition here and if you'd like to see world peace given a chance please sign the petition.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Mrs May's Treatment Of Boris

The exposé in the newspapers that Boris Johnson wrote an article extolling the virtues of the EU a couple of days before throwing his weight behind the leave campaign has done little to dissuade me from the belief that Boris's involvement as a figurehead in the referendum was for the good of Boris, not for the good of the nation.

Boris's explanation that he wrote the case for and against to focus his own mind is barely plausible and had he done so he might have said so at the time, even used the work as an example of his own deeply thoughtful and careful analysis, instead of. presenting sound bites and fear of Turkey.

I think both Boris and Mrs May were looking out for the main chance, Mrs May appears merely to have been more sophisticated in her playing of the political game. Nominally a remainer, to protect her position as Home Secretary if Cameron won, she nonetheless said as little as possible so she could position herself for the top job if it all ended in tears.

Boris's approach was a little more transparent. Mrs May has been quite clever in some ways, or maybe that should read devious. By making Boris Foreign Secretary she's given him something to lose and kept his loose cannonness close to her and under the microscope, whilst the appointments given to David Davis and Liam Fox leave Boris with much less he can meddle with.

If you're a fan of Machiavelli and feel that hypocrisy is just a stock in trade for politicians then you'll be well pleased with Mrs May and her cabinet, but be prepared for three years or more of turbulence, inflation, currency fluctuations and in the end a weakened UK.

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Friday, 14 October 2016

Proud To Be Ashamed

The stupidity around Brexit goes on and on. Mrs May is in danger of making Mrs Thatcher look like a gentlewoman. The home office commissioned a report, not published because the results weren't what the government expected or hoped for, but leaked anyway, and it suggests as few as one percent of international students overstay their visas after their studies have finished.

The government was looking for tens of thousands so they could have a crackdown and look good to xenophobic Brexiteers. Previous estimates, perhaps that should be guesses, peaked at one hundred and ten thousand; fifteen hundred looks to be about the true figure.

The number of overseas students applying to study in the UK has fallen somewhat since the referendum and given the economic problems we face that's a loss of  valuable foreign income, think of it as exports, and a particular loss for our universities. Opinions seem to vary as to how much applications have dropped but it could be as high as sixteen percent year on year.

Instead of helping the government is actually tightening the rules  in order to make it harder for overseas students to bring their money here. Pesky foreigners eh, who needs 'em?

Maybe it's for their own good; since the referendum there has been a forty one percent increase in race hate crime, five thousand five hundred crimes, and that's only those which go reported, we've seen a murder in Essex, and the murder of MP Jo Cox was probably linked to the referendum too.

Hard Brexit or no, Brexit is hard, personally I'm proud to be ashamed of my country right now. I'm not one of the sheep and I didn't vote for chaos. I have no problem with foreigners, only with evil, which can occur anywhere at any time and there's too much of it right here, right now.

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Thursday, 13 October 2016

What's Really Important?

What are the really important issues? My top three would be peace, the state of the planet and justice. Given that, I feel education and science are two of the biggest contributors to achieving peace, protecting the planet and justice, but there is another. I think we need to strive for a good standard of living for all, in all countries. If you have a roof, food, a job, education for your kids why would you pick up a gun and go to war or start on a dangerous and uncertain migration?

Britain has lost the plot of late. The EU helped build a prosperous and more peaceful Europe and we're turning our back on it and cutting off our own noses to spite our face at the same time. Fuel has gone up in price, food is going up in price and already supermarkets  are warring with suppliers again, clothing, cars, travel and much else will go up too. Including raw materials, which will affect British manufacturers currently cashing in on lower prices for their goods abroad. Except Jaguar Land Rover in Europe as animosity to towards British stupidity starts to bite on the continent. In short look forward to something we haven't seen in a while, inflation.

Lets hope it's not on a grand scale.

Better education, more caring for the world and not pure selfish ambition and just maybe this nonsense could have been avoided.

On the subject of justice Doctor Waney Squier is appealing being struck off at the moment for giving evidence, in court in, shaken baby syndrome cases in a way deemed to be misleading. The result of the action against her is that others will no longer testify for the defence, it's a major setback for justice in the UK.

We must be very careful about what we suppress, the scientific case is disputed and more work needs to be done to see who is right. However, we are supposed to have a principle in this country which says a person is innocent until proven guilty. When a baby is taken away from his or her parents it's very sad, but protection is also important, maybe the most important thing.

However, a bereaved mother who is innocent of any wrongdoing being jailed for murder is heaping one tragedy on top of another. This is a subject where science needs to be brought to bear and swiftly. Independent, properly funded scientific work must be done on it.

The next general election in the UK is set to be in May 2020, less than four years. In the meantime Theresa May seems hell bent on riding roughshod over parliament with her 'Hard Brexit'. By 2020 many older vote Leave voters will have left us and the inflation and problems referred to above will have bitten hard. She and her stooges should be more careful, her small climb down yesterday may seem as nothing soon. She may lose MPs and fickle voters.

Cheer up and think about Christmas eh!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

All Talk And No Action Britain

Andrew Mitchell called a debate in the UK Parliament on Syria yesterday. It's to be hoped that his motives were pure and they probably were, although what good he thought it would achieve I cannot imagine. Maybe he thought it would show solidarity with the victims; if so, the near empty chamber failed to achieve even that.

Clown Boris, our not so esteemed, from where I sit, Foreign Secretary called for the Stop The War Alliance to demonstrate outside the Russian Embassy. Thousands, possibly millions marched against the Iraq war and that was to send a message to our own government, a lot of good that did. A few protestors outside an embassy in London is sure to deflect Putin then. Boris is indeed a clown in my view of the world.

We spend billions on nuclear submarines and American missiles, which if rumours are correct we don't even have the firing codes for. Mind you anyone who would throw nukes around would be bonkers. What we actually need here are wind farms, power stations and tidal power, airports (I think next week may be revealing), better trains, better roads and more houses. IF you believe in the great god of never ending growth anyway.

 Airlines are now allowed to double the passenger flights to and from China, with no limit at all on cargo flights, where they will all take off and land is a mystery, although a decision appears at long last to finally be imminent, if the protestors don't force another stand off, review, or whatever. The UK is a small place, any increased airport capacity anywhere would help the economy, if they really believe in a northern powerhouse they should do something up here AND down south since the capacity issue will surely come up again before long if they only match the immediate need.

I think Trump may win in the USA, from what I see his America first and to hell with the rest of the world message seems to be resonating, at least with those selected for interviews by the UK media anyway. People I've listened to seem to think that each American generation should automatically be better off than the last. They should look around. American cities did not live through what London, Southampton, Coventry, Dresden, Berlin, Rouen etc went through in world war two, but missiles have a far longer range and far more deadly consequences today.

The foreign policy and the attitude of America to the rest of the world is of a level of importance which cannot really be overstated. Sadly Britain is swamped in selfishness and paranoia, racism and a mood to roll the dice too. I'm not saying we're any better and America has yet to speak, maybe Trump won't win. The opinion polls don't favour Trump right now, but we didn't expect the stupidity of Brexit here either.

As regards Syria, the US is distracted by the election, understandably, neither Britain nor America wants military conflict with Russia and frankly neither Britain, nor America nor anyone other than Russia really knows what it does want, only what it doesn't want and that really isn't helpful.

We've created chaos in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and effectively in Syria too, Egypt doesn't look too healthy at times either. My heart bleeds when I see a child pulled from the wreckage of Aleppo crying for her daddy. What to do about it isn't so simple.

In fact the situation is so difficult that most MPs didn't bother to attend the debate. The United Nations Special Envoy to Syria has offered to escort the rebels out of Syria in person, if Putin and Assad will let them go. He's a brave man. Whatever agreements or guarantees Assad and Putin were to give I wouldn't trust them once nine hundred rebels were out in the open, I very much doubt they would miss the opportunity to strike just because of the life of one UN official.

Not to sit on the fence I think the UK should scrap Trident and sort out the economy. We can influence countries we trade with; as bankrupts we won't be trading with anyone, just giving away the family jewels as we did with our latest power generation project.

Next I would pull the RAF and every military person we have in the Middle East out, you cannot be part of the solution when you're part of the problem and for too long we've been wasting lives and money with no idea what we actually want at the end of it. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

I would resign our seat at the UN Security Council, it's utterly meaningless in the face of Russian vetoes and I'd campaign for a new more relevant UN constitution. Something framed to work in the world we find ourselves in, not the cold war period world. The UN failed in Bosnia, is failing in Syria, brought cholera to Haiti and then claimed diplomatic immunity to avoid paying compensation. Disgusting. I could list more failures but that's enough, it needs to start over. Whether we in Britain still have any influence in the world is a big question, we've certainly done everything we could to reduce it recently.

Not in order of priority, but next I would try to do more for Syrian refugees, especially the children. Britain is an enigma, we raise millions once a year for Children In Need, but not on our doorstep eh. Idiocy. I'm not talking about economic migrants I'm talking about those innocents in most need.

As regards economic migrants, we should try to help those countries which are becoming depopulated, but which are not actually at war. If people have a roof, food, a job, education and hope for their children's future the migrant crisis would be much reduced. Our ability to help is also dependent on the economy and the pound is on the way to being worth less than the Euro or the US dollar which is not a great help.

We should stop arms sales, especially to regimes like Saudi Arabia, Boris criticised Putin and Assad's atrocities in the house yesterday, yet what is he doing to prevent atrocities carried out with British weapons? Hypocrite. You go and stand in the rain outside the Russian Embassy in a clown suit Boris.

Finally I would like to see us reconsider our membership of NATO, especially if Trump becomes US President. NATO does not oblige us to follow on America's coat tails on every and any military adventure the US may undertake, but if Trump were to provoke an attack on America we would be obliged to get involved.

Mrs May might think that to be a citizen of the world is to be a citizen of nowhere, but tribalism is the problem and platitudes  like "we're leaving the EU but we're not turning our back on Europe" convince no one. The world is a small place these days, Europe has a voice. Europe matters.

Andrew Mitchell was correct when he said that Russia is treating the UN much as Mussolini and Hitler treated the League Of Nations in the nineteen thirties. To avoid a repeat of that disaster we need to address the failing UN and quickly. Even if clown Boris does lose his seat at the top table.

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Tuesday, 11 October 2016

It's Only A Thousand Million

A few MPs are getting jumpy, they'd like to know the government's actual plan for so called Brexit. Mrs May and her three stooges won't tell them. The idea that we might all find out via press conferences held by Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel once negotiations begin would be quite comical if it weren't so sad.

Those same MPs would like a vote on the terms of leaving, maybe on the negotiating position ahead of that too, Mrs May and her elite clowns have ruled that out. The referendum it seems gives them carte blanche to do whatever they like, well, that's their interpretation anyway. Cameron's stupidity will echo down generations of Britons, starting with the young who voted remain. Mrs May's duplicity may yet rival, match or even exceed that odium.

No one who voted leave actually knew what the hell they were voting for. We're already seeing fuel rise in price as the pound falls, next it will be food and clothing; fortunately only non essential luxury items then, so that will only hurt the forty eight percent of us whom the chauffeur driven, un-elected prime Minister with a nice address in town calls a 'metropolitan elite'. It won't hurt leave voters from poorer communities or run down seaside towns so that's ok.

Leaked documents from the Treasury suggest that a 'hard Brexit' as advocated by the once weakly remain supporting Mrs May could cost sixty six billion pounds per year in lost tax revenue. Of course it's only a Treasury prediction, but indulge me.

Leave promised a saving of three hundred and fifty million pounds per week and one billion is a thousand millions. Multiply three hundred and fifty million by fifty two weeks and you get eighteen thousand two hundred millions or eighteen point two billions per year. However, roughly one hundred and seventy million of the three hundred and fifty came back to us for infrastructure projects, farming subsidies, university research etc so actually the saving isn't eighteen point two billion it's nine point three six billion.

If you subtract nine point three six billion from sixty six billion you're left with a loss of  fifty six point six four billion per annum in round figures which is a loss of one point zero nine billion per week. Ahh lets round it down it's a thousand millions every week lost rather than three hundred and fifty millions gained. Lovely.

Go Mrs May! No really go now.

In case you may need to make some more money!

Monday, 10 October 2016

From A British Perspective

Another presidential political debate in the USA and mixed reactions from commentators and viewers. The BBC spoke to a small number of Americans who watched the debate and they gave me the feeling they thought Donald Trump had done pretty well. My fear is that America is not yet ready to have a woman as president and that there's an appetite for change, any change.

Perhaps it was an appetite for change that led to the unexpected Brexit vote which so divided Britain. The old cliche about frying pans and fires comes to mind however. Trump effectively blamed Mrs Clinton for all the failures of American government over many years. I hope people will look at her voting record. Clinton has not had presidential powers to date, nor a presidential veto. How she voted as a senator will say something about her beliefs and intentions. In the debate she appeared to me to be the more rational and measured, despite the personal animosity which was palpable.

It seems to me, as an outsider looking in, that the republicans went to great lengths to ensure Obama achieved as little as possible, voting in opposition even on issues where they had previously been in agreement, just to prevent the record showing a black president had achieved good things. Mrs Clinton cannot be blamed for that.

Trump was right about one thing, America is divided, just as Britain too is divided and that's why I fear he may win. I don't believe he's honest and I don't believe he respects women, I do believe he uses every loophole to avoid tax and brags about it. I do believe he would look after his own in that regard if he wins and fail to support the middle classes, which in the USA, as here in Britain, make up the engine of the economy.

From a British perspective I think it's a great shame we didn't embrace Europe. We could have had some influence there and Europe could have some influence in the world. If Trump becomes US President, aggressive and impulsive as he is, I hope we will have the sense to distance ourselves. Which is sad, because I really am very fond of the US and my American friends.

Malcolm Snook, author, blogger and photographer.

Another Politician Who can't Tell Right From Wrong

It is reported that Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said IF Saudi Arabia DELIBERATELY targetted civilians then arms sales will be REVIEWED (reviewed means not necessarily stopped just to spell it out).

Seems to me that implies that if it was just an error of judgement that's fine by him then. It's simply not good enough, arms sales to such a regime should never even have started. A funeral was bombed and as people went to rescue survivors it was hit again. That's on the back of trying to starve Yemen's civilians to death, using British and American missiles.

Some Brexit voters (I'm not one obviously), have told me they want Britain to be great again. Well, first our politicians had better grow some balls and secondly learn right from wrong, that might make us a little bit great.

Malcolm Snook author and blogger.

Friday, 7 October 2016

A Citizen Of Where?

I really am starting to think Theresa May has lost the plot entirely; she implies that if you voted remain you're part of an elite that is sneering at the working class. Forty eight percent of the population cannot by any stretch of the imagination be an elite and personally I'm sneering at no one. I am worried about the state of Britain and where it's going though.

Mrs May knows that the second most indebted country in the world, that's us, has an economic crisis on its hands; whilst it's easy to blame everything on Brexit it has to be a part of the reason she approved fracking. If you don't think there is an economic crisis the pound fell yet again exacerbating still further our debt which is more than half the size of the USA's debt, the only country to owe more than us, but with a population many times the size of ours and quite a lot more industry not just 'services'.

The NHS in Harrogate wants to cut back non urgent operations for patients who are over weight or who smoke. Does anyone think they'd be so high handed if they had a surplus in the budget? If Brexit causes the economy to slump, and we haven't even got started yet, then there are going to be many more very tough decisions to be made. Forget about our EU contributions, we could lose billions if we mishandle this and no plan is visible yet, not really any stated aims even, just rhetoric and the excuse of not giving a running commentary.

In order to prosper we need more airport capacity among other things, it's not just about going on holiday, it's business, cargo and inward tourism too. The decision has been put off for years. Infrastructure spending brings a number of benefits, such as employment and airport capacity sends a signal abroad too. However, what will happen next is interesting.

We once built our own power stations and dare I say it nuclear reactors, now we're getting France and China to do it because we don't have the money. In the long term who will pay? The British consumer will pay. Where will the profits end up? France and China. If we cannot pay for our power stations can we then afford pay for new airport capacity? Time will tell, but if we invite other countries to do that for us they'll want a return on investment and if the power generation deal is anything to go by a substantial one at that.

What really brings home the weakness of  Mrs May's thinking is her revealing statement that if you're a citizen of the world you're a citizen of nowhere. What utter tosh. Human beings have been fighting one another since before recorded history, tribalism and nationalism have played a big part in that, the concept of them and us.

I'm proud to be a citizen of the world. I'm proud to have travelled as far and as wide as I have. I'm glad I tried to get to know and understand people in other countries with different cultures, it's enriching and it's an aid to understanding. Isolationism is a mistake. Mrs May might well preach about Britain going out into the world and making its own way and making new trade deals here there and everywhere, but she'd better learn something about the world or she'll fall flat on her face.

Don't worry the taxpayer will foot the bill for her trips abroad even if the pound is only worth fifty cents. You can just be a citizen of Britain and stay home.

Malcolm Snook writer, blogger and campaigner

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Nice Words Even As She Slips The Knife In

Theresa May has made what is arguably her first major speech since becoming our un-elected Prime Minister. The rhetoric was professional even impressive, small on detail and hows, but that's often the case in political speeches. Make a rousing speech, especially to your own acolytes, then who needs detail? Rhetorical question.

Lets look at it then. Mrs May appears to be positioning herself as representing the angry and those who feel disenfranchised and not listened to. I could tell her a thing or two about not being listened to! Clearly she's trying to reach out to the fifty two percent who voted for so called Brexit. Many of those people clearly are angry, particularly about immigration and feel they're suffering. I could relocate them to many places on this earth where they'd suffer a great deal more than in Britain, but that's another matter.

It seems to me that Mrs May feels she knows why people voted for Brexit and is telling them she can fix it. Mrs Thatcher thought she understood everything too. An older, lady acquaintance of mine told me the other day that she voted for Brexit because Mr Obama told her not to and she didn't like a foreigner sticking his oar in. Simple as that. People vote for multifarious reasons. Obama's intervention may have been counter productive, but that doesn't mean he was wrong.

The country is divided, fifty two to forty eight at the last count, excluding don't knows and those with a moral case for a vote but no actual vote. Divide and rule is an age old concept, but in a modern democracy its value may be overrated. A healthy majority of support might be more beneficial. Alienate the forty eight percenters and it's not a huge electoral majority, take the age profile into account and as the fifty two percenters die off it doesn't look like a safe long term policy either.

May appears to be pitching to both the UKIP voters AND Labour voters, right and left, at one and the same time. She also claims her party now occupies the centre ground. Nonsense, the Tories have lurched to the right chasing the UKIP vote whilst using rhetoric about workers and making capitalism fairer to try and appeal to Labour voters. Although I doubt they'll be very successful with the latter.

Mrs May is correct that the country is angry, but we're not unified in our anger, we're not all angry about the same things. We've had thirty years or more of media lies about the EU, I mean straight bananas, give me a break. Thirty years of lies has its effect though and that makes me angry.

Some people don't like rubbing shoulders with Poles; there was a time when black people were felt to be the problem, then Asians, now many descendants of black and Asian people are on the anti immigration bandwagon too. They didn't like it when it was them and the less thoughtful and less reasonable ethnic white Brits seem to have become even more racist since the referendum, and THEY don't distinguish, so being Asian or black and anti immigration could be seen as an error of judgement.

I wonder how many of these people who claim to be suffering in this awful country actually want to pick tomatoes. We'll see when Amber Rudd makes tomato growers try to get British workers first before they can look abroad. That'll be fun.

Many Brexit voters, we're told, don't or haven't voted in regular elections, will they do so now? Mrs May might be preaching to a fickle audience, one without party affiliations, or any deep abiding interest.

The media and some politicians are talking about remain voters as being a metropolitan elite. Some may be, but an elite, by its very nature is a small group, NOT forty eight percent of the population. Hillary Clinton has recognised the importance of the middle classes and made a direct appeal to them. I wonder if Mrs May shares the same insight. On current performance the answer is probably not.

We, the middle classes are the motor of this economy. The official Remain Campaign overestimated the importance of the old adage 'it's the economy stupid' and undervalued the undercurrent of fears about foreigners and sovereignty and they lost, but when the cuts really bite the economy will suddenly become important again. I've said it before and I'll go on saying it, the economy pays for everything we hold dear.

It's a tragedy that the Leave Campaign told so many lies, like the one about Turkey which has no medium term prospect of joining the EU even if the Turkish people wanted it, which they don't and which clown Boris with his family there knows all too well.

We had the best of both worlds, EU membership with our precious UK pound preserved. Soon the pound will be worth less than either a US dollar, or a euro if the fall isn't stemmed, unheard of, how proud we'll all be then. My older lady acquaintance who voted leave purely because of Mr Obama asked me if I thought Britain would ever be great again.

Hankering after the past is no way to move forwards, the world turns, we must deal with it.

Mrs May says she wants to create a prosperous nation and a fairer nation, noble goals, I look forward to seeing the plan. It needs a plan and it needs to take account of the forty eight percent who voted remain as well as the nearly dead. Personally I'm not part of some mysterious elite. I'm middle income, middle class, middle England and many of those around me who voted remain fit that description, middle class and the engine in the boat.

Mrs May looks set fair to make us the disenfranchised and the angry. She might set out to appeal to the unemployed (they won't win an election) and those who are currently angry about we know not what, but she might find them about as stable as UKIP, who had a new leader for less than three weeks and just tried to murder another contender!

At one and the same time Mrs May is claiming the middle ground in words, even as she plunges the dagger into the middle class. How she deals with airport expansion will be interesting, her government has just overturned a county council decision against fracking. She knows her government will have to do many things to keep this boat afloat economically, even if it means pumping gas into the bilges.

Getting large companies to pay their tax is all to the good, going after people like Cur Philip Green, sorry forgot how to spell Sir for a moment there, is all good and right, but a mere detail in the big picture. Mrs May will be happy to have distanced herself from Cameron, the author of this madness and to have stamped her vision on us. Personally I'm not too happy about getting stamped on. Lets hope she's less stupid than she is determined. Doesn't look too hopeful from where I'm sitting.

Malcolm Snook Author, photographer and campaigner.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

It's Not About Them And Us

A recent report tells us that younger generations have less wealth at thirty years or so of age than those born earlier. In fact what it actually says is that those born in the eighties have roughly half the wealth, as adults, of those born in the seventies or earlier. Much of the report focuses on rising house prices, from which those born earlier are deemed to have benefitted.

Having been born in the nineteen fifties I've noticed a few other changes. I think we can assume the Institute Of Fiscal Studies got its sums right and that the younger generations are accumulating less wealth, but there's much supposition and controversy in the media as to WHY. Just recently I qualified for my old gits Railcard and for the first time in my life I went first class on a train. I was surrounded by students.

When I go out to eat, which is rare and special occasions only I'm surrounded by young people for whom it seems to be a regular and frequent exercise. I'm not just assuming this, I talk to young people too. In addition someone I know well who works for a Housing Association has had to turn away applicants for the help to buy scheme, because they could save for a deposit but chose to run two cars, have multiple foreign holidays, eat out twice a week etc. They could afford to save for a deposit but chose not to.

My parents considered the only acceptable debt to be a mortgage, anything else was irresponsible. Like many of my generation I did not go to university, so no government grant for me thank you, I went to work. I had a job in the nineteen seventies where I earned eleven pounds a week and tried to live on ten and put one pound in the Building Society each week. by the end of the week I was eating left overs from a transport cafe up the road.

I'm not suggesting it was like that for everyone, or that people should expect to live like that today, but living within ones means was a cultural ethic. When I got promoted I got on the housing ladder and slept on the floor until I could afford a bed. I didn't buy a bed, or carpets for that matter on credit. I did not eat out other than a Cornish pasty at a local pub, which was jolly cheap and had meat, veg and pastry; that was a balanced diet.

I'm very sorry that students have to pay tuition fees, I've said before that the government should invest in education and in the future in preference to nuclear missiles. The motive was to enable more people to go to university, but not everyone suits university and we need more apprentices and trades, that's part of the reason people come into this country which has so upset the apple cart and led to people like May and Johnson seizing power. Tuition fees also encourages the pay later mentality, which leads to less wealth later.

I cannot remember the last time I changed my mobile phone, or bought a computer or a tablet. I'm still running Windows XP, many younger people upgrade all the time. Student loans and a culture of credit have taught people that debt is OK, and crikey hasn't the government embraced that concept too, Britain is the second most indebted country on the planet. The Chancellor has just abandoned any thought of wiping out the deficit by 2020 too. Let alone the debt.

I consider my financial situation to be OK, because I'm not in debt and can get by and have some fun from time to time. I have assets, but I lived through fifteen percent mortgage interest rates and now can get bugger all interest on my savings. Different generation, different circumstances.

The Institute Of Fiscal Studies is doubtless right about the actual wealth and assets of younger people compared with us at the same age, BUT I don't think they've grasped, or even tried to grasp the effects of credit and the must have it now society.

They haven't recognised the differences in how people live and how they spend on a social life, travel and the latest technology in a way we never did. I did ten test jumps on a very dubious parachute in the seventies, for twenty pounds a time to buy my first ever stereo system. It's all very well saying tech didn't exist then but music, tv, cars and motorcycles and all sorts of luxury goods did, we just didn't see them as a right, but as something to be earned.

Many companies used to have defined benefit pension schemes in the old days and we're all supposed, in my generation, to have benefitted whilst younger people have less beneficial and more expensive defined contribution schemes. In fact we didn't all work for big companies offering such schemes, many of us paid into our own private pension schemes and saw them substantially ruined by Gordon Brown.

In common with younger people even my generation has seen the state pension put back to a later date and it's not particularly generous, you wouldn't want to have to live on it! We all need to recognise that there are challenges and opportunities, different generations face different challenges and opportunities and its not a them and us thing. Although I do apologise that many older people voted the younger generation out of Europe against their will, I wasn't one of them I have to say.

The Labour party is moving left, the Tories right although Theresa May had the cheek to say today that the Tories occupy the centre ground. They don't, only the Liberals can lay some claim to that, what's left of them. If you want to get on, work, save and invest. Don't vote Labour they'd destroy what's left of the economy, campaign for the single market, don't give up and think about joining the Liberals and try to create a party of common sense.

Good luck, you're the future.

You could also try this!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

A Fools Paradise

India is making about two and a half million cars a year, many for export with companies like Renault and Nissan in the vanguard. India has overtaken South Korea to become the fifth largest car producing nation globally. In the UK Jaguar Land Rover, Indian owned naturally, but still a large supplier of jobs to UK workers has reported that people in Europe suddenly don't want to buy British cars, surprise, surprise.

Theresa May has come out as a hard Brexiteer and Philip Hammond can deal with the economic problems. Yes, the falling, maybe that should be fallen pound has helped our exports and tourism generally in the short term, but the effects of Europe turning its back on us and the effects of much more expensive raw materials take longer to filter through. Or did Brexiteers think we still had coal mines, or that maybe we had our own iron ore, even if we do have the stumbling remains of a steel industry.

Imported food will go up too and can you see the Brits giving up their Mercedes and BMWs, Volkswagens and Audis? I can't, no Jaguar has lost its kudos abroad but German cars won't lose theirs here, or anywhere else, people will just pay more for them in the UK. Small, economical and attractive cars like the Fiat 500 will go up in price too, so it's not just the rich who are affected. Fuel costs will rise too by the way; petrol, diesel and the electricity the French and Chinese will be generating for us because we cannot afford to build for ourselves.

Meanwhile Amber Rudd is grandstanding to the Brexit voters by coming down on overseas workers from non EU countries and foreign students too. Yes, it will be great if we can train and retain more British doctors, but it's not as simple as that. Mr Hunt has seriously harmed the relationship between British doctors and the government so that some at least are looking to Canada and Australia as destinations once qualified. On account of this there is talk of making it a requirement that doctors stay here for four years after qualification, how much better would it be if they actually wanted to stay for life?

Grandstanding to the fifty two percent, many of whom will be dying off soon and some of whom may see the damage when it's too late is a short term unintelligent response to the problems we face. Fact is the Tories are split, the country is split and when Hammond talks about a roller coaster ride for the economy he's not kidding; business hates uncertainty and flourishes in periods of stability, well you won't be seeing that for a while.

As a result the Tory promise of a surplus by 2020 has been lost in the wash, but it wasn't an actual surplus anyway, it was just a surplus for the year. Deficit and surplus are politicians' weasel words, if more comes in through taxation than goes out in spending that's a surplus, but we've been in DEBT for years. We're the second most indebted country on the planet, if there was a small surplus in 2020, which their won't be, it would make a tiny, tiny dent in the debt. A real surplus would be when we're debt free and in the black.

Another little snippet from the Tory conference is the idea from Defence Secretary Michael Fallon that we opt out of parts of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is nothing to do with the EU by the way. He wants to do it to protect British soldiers from prosecution. Don't become a soldier I'd suggest, don't become a tool of the politicians. Be that as it may, what signal does such a move send when we criticise other regimes for abusing human rights. Oops, I forgot, we sell them arms so that's OK then.

Neither the divided Tories nor divided Labour have any answer and we were too stupid to vote for Europe and we're too stupid to vote Liberal too. Lets hope the Americans don't prove to be stupid this November or we can all kiss our tails goodbye!

Malcolm Snook